Nothing can be more devastating than losing a child to murder.  Not getting answers for months, years, even decades makes that devastation so much worse.  It’s like a cancer growing inside you.  You can pretend that your life is getting back to normal, but, it never does.

It was almost 17 years for our family to get answers and hear those incredible words. “GUILTY” “GUILTY’ “GUILTY” “GUILTY.”   It was an amazing bittersweet victory; one that I never expected.

For 12 years I lived in fear that someone was getting away with murdering Bonnie, my beautiful, sweet, 18 year old daughter.  Once the killer, Kenneth Dion, was identified I lived in fear that he could get away with it.  I feared he could get off on a technicality; that the trial could end up with a mistrial, hung jury, or even worse, that the killer could be acquitted.  I lived with that fear for almost 5 years.

During the trial, we all watched a video of the Alaska State Trooper’s response at the crime scene.  One trooper crawled around on his hands and knees looking for evidence above the cliff.  He found one drop of Bonnie’s blood, which was a crucial piece of evidence proving Bonnie was injured before going over the cliff.

Another trooper went into the water in dive gear looking for evidence, weapons, and to check the flow and drift pattern of the water.  Then, I watched them lift Bonnie’s face out of the water and carefully place her battered, lifeless body into a “body bag.”  As much as no parent ever wants to ever see such images, it was incredibly healing for me. 

For 17 years, I believed that everything was messed up and overlooked.  I thought the whole scene was treated as an accident and no evidence or documentation took place.  I feared the worst; I lived with so much anger and doubt.  Law enforcement can’t share a lot of information with the families during an open investigation.  All victims’ families live in fear that things aren’t being done.  Until you go through a trial and get the conviction there are still so many unknowns; so many fears and so much pain.

Hearing “Guilty” lifted the weight of the world off my shoulders.   It was such an incredible sense of relief.  17 years of doubt, lack of trust, anger, all gone.  It’s such a calming relief when it’s finally a reality.  “The killer is CONVICTED”  “He didn’t get away with murder.”   

I believe our family can now start to heal.  I want to thank Timothy Hunyor and the Alaska State Troopers for all the work they did on the case.  I want to thank the crime lab personnel for their work.  In my mind, they are the new heroes of justice.  Our crime lab is the foundation of our justice system.  And of course, the prosecuting team, Paul Miovas and Jenna Gruenstein.  They were incredibly caring and brilliant strategists.  Everyone in the court room knew on Paul Miovas' rebuttal that we would end up with 1st degree murder conviction.  He was brilliant.  He "connected the dots and put it all together.  Thank you, Paul.

But, we are not here today for just “thank yous.”

I have learned, first-hand, how incredibly damaging living with the unknown is.  Now, with collection of DNA on Arrest, fewer cases will grow cold and cold cases can be resolved.  Daily, another cold case from 10, 20, even 30 plus years is solved.  Today, I, along with the Homicide Reward Fund Board, we are asking all Alaskans to get these 4 cases out in the public eye.  Four Alaskan teenagers, their precious lives cut short.  Shelley Connolly, 16, murdered January 7th 1978; Eileen Wafer, 14, murdered June 10th 1982; Jessica Baggen, 15, murdered May 6th, 1996; and Ann Saephan, 15, murdered November 8th 2003.  Let’s get these terrible murders solved so their families and communities can heal.  Someone out there has information; that piece to the puzzle that law enforcement needs. 

All Alaskans can help by taking two minutes.  Post the Homicide Reward Fund on your Facebook page.  Print out a flyer and post it or share it by emailing it to your network of friends.  We want ALL Alaskans to read about these four unsolved murders; AND, we want the persons responsible for these murders to know they will be caught.  NO ONE SHOULD GET AWAY WITH MURDER;  AND, THEY WON’T .

Let’s get these cases solved!   Let’s get an arrest and a conviction for each of these four families.



Karen Foster

Read by daughter Samantha Campbell at the press conference September 28, 2011 at the Alaska Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory.